What is it like to be a carrot? Not all of have given a strange idea like this any thought, but it is remarkably interesting when you do. Try picture yourself in a situation similar to a carrot. A carrot cannot outrun its persecutors as it is stuck at the spot where it is born. The alternative is an environment full of dangerous fungi, insects, virus and other pests. The best take is to produce your own little potions to protect your habitat. And carrots do. They produce potentially toxic and ill-flavoured kerosene like components, which are repellent to attackers. They taste terrible and they are flavours we wrongly like to blame the farmer for having used.
Text: Dr Agric Einar Risvik, Nofima & New Nordic Food
Photo: Johan Holmquist
The art of tasting a carrot is a delicate balance of knowledge and sensitivity. If you are familiar with the mental faculties of a carrot you know that kerosene-like flavours most likely also will correlate with changes in texture and colour, due to suboptimal growth conditions. A pointed carrot has grown in soft sandy soil and a rounded tip is sign of maturity or compact soil if the carrot is small. Light orange colour reflects a cold climate or that it is grown in latitudes far north. This is why the perfect carrot for the exquisite polar cod called Skrei is a small pointed pale carrot grown in the cold climate of Finmark, at 70º north. The faint translucent blush of youthful but distinguishable flavour notes, the reflections of a cold, short summer and a clean environment matches the shiny white flaking flesh of the mild polar cod. The perfect couple!
Cooking a carrot enhances the sweetness, but too much and yack it becomes soft and gooey. The art of tasting is not wasted on a carrot. They contain the same basic compositional structure found in wine. But the maturation notes are not so expressed, and the notes are more faint and delicate. This makes the carrot more challenging to cultivate an acquaintance with. The balance between the fruity notes of juvenile expressiveness must balance the maturing flavours of adulthood in the perfect carrot. In a fish dish, the adult flavours of an outgrown carrot quickly out manoeuvre the subtle flesh of the shiny white fish. The primeur carrot will express an innocent sweetness of a shy child. This is a carrot with a pure soul, pale as the aurora borealis matching the white flakes of the cod. No wonder they fit well together.
All this you can taste and experience if you dare to take the position of a carrot. All this you can learn, but you have to keep your senses open as the perfect carrot for fish does not shout out its knowledge. You need patience and ingenuity to start up the conversation.